“My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding” Impressively Big Wedding Dresses
I used to be under the impression that large wedding dresses had gone the way of the dinosaur and that slim silhouettes would be reigning supreme for the foreseeable future. This might be the case for most people, but it certainly isn't the norm in all subcultures, especially gypsies, or travelers, as has been revealed on the UK documentary Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, which made its debut in February 2010.
The dresses featured in Big Fat Gypsy Weddings sport skirts larger than any I have seen at large since the eighteenth century, and even those seem somewhat demure when compared to these modern confections of fluffy tulle, glittery Swarovski crystal, and even LED fairy lights.
Once I discovered the documentary, I had to have a better look at these unusual, big wedding dresses. They are certainly unlike any dresses I have ever seen!
One of the most salient aspects of the dresses featured in Big Fat Gypsy Weddings is their girth. Have you ever seen skirts so large—I mean, aside from the skirts worn by Mother Ginger in the Nutcracker ballet?
These skirts are so large, in fact, that the brides wearing these big wedding dresses need several people to assist them with entering and exiting vehicles and squeezing through doorways. When the brides sit down to eat their meals at their own wedding receptions, it is actually easier to sit them down in an open area and bring the tables to them rather than struggle to move the massive clouds of cloth under the table. Dancing with the bride poses another logistical challenge, though doing so would certainly be an interesting experience.
Traditional and Risque
One of the common themes presented in Big Fat Gypsy Weddings is the dichotomy of a culture that is conservative, religious, and old-timey and yet full of girls who marry young and dress and dance in a rather racy, suggestive manner.
Many of these gypsy wedding dresses reflect that clash - they have huge, traditional skirts (which, in the past, were used to literally make it difficult for men to get close to women), and yet elements of raunchiness, like a miniskirt up front or low strapless corset. The contrast in both style and messaging is fascinating.
Dresses have long been bedazzled with precious stones to show off wealth and prestige. It is only in this modern age that expensive stones and jewels have been relegated mostly to the realm of jewelry.
Many of the gypsy wedding dresses shown in Big Fat Gypsy Weddings harken back to the olden times with their use of Swarovski crystal. While many wedding dresses stick with normal sequins or generic rhinestones in the embellishment department, dressmaker Thelma Madine (responsible for these impressive gowns) has opted for a branded, pricey option when adding bling to bodices. I find this choice interesting because it reflects the status-seeking conspicuous consumption we used to see with dress detailing in the days of yore.
Many of the dresses designed by traveler wedding dress designer Thelma Madine seem to have themes (e.g. sunflowers, butterflies, etc...), which adds another interesting twist to this bridal wear.
While most "themed" dresses are usually seen at costume parties or proms, theme wedding dresses only make the occasional appearance at themed weddings (for example, Star Wars weddings, or something of the sort) and are more like costumes than dresses. In this case, the dresses are certainly wedding dresses first and foremost (at least they are not costumes designed to make the wearer seem like a particular character or think), but they do present an interesting hybrid between costume wear and bridal apparel.
The easiest explanation for these themed, prom-like dresses is that the brides wearing them are about prom age. If a teenager is to be married, she is far more likely to want something fantastical, flamboyant, and costume-like.
One final differentiation point between the gypsy wedding dresses featured in Big Fat Gypsy Weddings is the occasional use of fairy lights beneath the skirts.
That fairly lights have crept their way into these wedding dresses is particularly interesting because it might be seen as taking a relatively new trend of using LED fairy lights in wedding reception venue décor a step further.
Indeed, LED fairy lights and tulle have been intertwined for a dreamy, magical feel quite a lot in modern weddings, however, it has taken the adventurous, fantastical, and young ambitions of young traveler brides-to-be to think to incorporate the lights into their skirts.
Though the battery packs must be cumbersome and the lights a hassle to deal with, the skirts of most of these dresses are so huge anyway, added interior lighting could hardly be seen as a bother.